The government is considering reviving controversial proposals to regulate obscene publications in the wake of a public outcry against explicit sexual content in some tabloid weeklies, the secretary for commerce, industry and technology disclosed yesterday. Joseph Wong Wing-ping told lawmakers the government was studying the need to reconsider proposed measures shelved six years ago because of opposition from the media industry. The move comes amid growing public concern over indecent and obscene publications after Easy Finder magazine in August ran photos of Twins pop star Gillian Chung Yan-tung changing backstage in Malaysia. In 2000, the government proposed that newspapers with sexual content should have a prominent red line drawn across the page to warn off under 18s. Officials also proposed renaming the three categories of publications as 'unrestricted; restricted to age 18 and above; and banned' to avoid confusion with film classifications. Opposition from the media industry and political parties forced the government to shelve the proposals after a public consultation. Addressing the Legislative Council's information technology and broadcasting panel, Mr Wong said the government understood concerns that a maximum penalty of HK$800,000 and a 12-month jail term for repeat offenders were not tough enough deterrents. 'We will assess again whether some of these proposals are applicable,' he said. Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, was concerned whether freedom of expression would be affected. But Mr Wong assured her the proposed measures would not undermine freedom of expression. 'The review should not affect freedom of expression. We will conduct the review with care.' Stressing the government has not come to a final conclusion, Mr Wong said the review would be widely debated among the public and in Legco.